puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling\ ˈpə-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce puzzle (audio) , ˈpəz-​liŋ \

Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to offer or represent to (someone) a problem difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve : challenge mentally also : to exert (oneself, one's mind, etc.) over such a problem or situation they puzzled their wits to find a solution
2 archaic : complicate, entangle
3 : to solve with difficulty or ingenuity puzzle out an answer to a riddle

intransitive verb

1 : to be uncertain as to action or choice
2 : to attempt a solution of a puzzle by guesswork or experiment puzzle over the mystery

puzzle

noun

Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the state of being puzzled : perplexity
2a : something that puzzles
b : a question, problem, or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from puzzle

Verb

puzzler \ ˈpə-​zə-​lər How to pronounce puzzle (audio) , ˈpəz-​lər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for puzzle

Verb

puzzle, perplex, bewilder, distract, nonplus, confound, dumbfound mean to baffle and disturb mentally. puzzle implies existence of a problem difficult to solve. the persistent fever puzzled the doctor perplex adds a suggestion of worry and uncertainty especially about making a necessary decision. a behavior that perplexed her friends bewilder stresses a confusion of mind that hampers clear and decisive thinking. a bewildering number of possibilities distract implies agitation or uncertainty induced by conflicting preoccupations or interests. distracted by personal problems nonplus implies a bafflement that makes orderly planning or deciding impossible. the remark left us utterly nonplussed confound implies temporary mental paralysis caused by astonishment or profound abasement. the tragic news confounded us all dumbfound suggests intense but momentary confounding; often the idea of astonishment is so stressed that it becomes a near synonym of astound. was at first too dumbfounded to reply

Noun

mystery, problem, enigma, riddle, puzzle mean something which baffles or perplexes. mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation. the mystery of the stone monoliths problem applies to a question or difficulty calling for a solution or causing concern. problems created by high technology enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret. his suicide remains an enigma riddle suggests an enigma or problem involving paradox or apparent contradiction. the riddle of the reclusive pop star puzzle applies to an enigma or problem that challenges ingenuity for its solution. the thief's motives were a puzzle for the police

Examples of puzzle in a Sentence

Verb The cause of the accident has puzzled investigators. it is the cause of the disease that puzzles doctors Noun a book of puns, riddles, and puzzles the final fate of the colonists at Roanoke remains a puzzle to this very day
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Of their four selections over the first two days, this one seemed to puzzle fans the most. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 2021 Draft," 2 May 2021 Among the deceased was a baby who’d been buried in a jar—a relatively common funerary practice that nevertheless continues to puzzle researchers. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "Archaeologists Discover 110 Ancient Egyptian Tombs Along the Nile Delta," 28 Apr. 2021 Imagine trying to puzzle out a square root by hand rather than using a calculator—the computing power majorly boosts your chances of success. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This Is the First Fusion Power Plant to Generate Net Electricity," 5 Apr. 2021 In the months after the 2018 discovery, one group of theorists began to puzzle over the mechanism that made bilayer graphene superconduct. Charlie Wood, Quanta Magazine, "A New Twist Reveals Superconductivity’s Secrets," 16 Mar. 2021 Shelters have become a source of spread as experts puzzle over how to stem stubbornly high infection rates despite an aggressive national vaccine rollout. Julie Wernau, WSJ, "Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine Emerges as Preferred Shot for Homeless," 4 Apr. 2021 Helping her parents puzzle through foreign words felt challenging — but not compared with her long days during the pandemic, paired with long evenings of child care. Emma Goldberg, New York Times, "What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in 2020 America," 5 Oct. 2020 Chartrand has been reexamining his old reports that found high levels of DDT in three species of deep-water fish — puzzle pieces from the past that could help inform the questions still haunting the public today. Los Angeles Times, "Deep-sea ‘Roombas’ will comb ocean floor for DDT waste barrels near Catalina," 10 Mar. 2021 But soon his observations begin to disturb and puzzle us. Washington Post, "‘The Scapegoat’ is a bizarre, arresting mystery you won’t be able to put down," 9 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Every title sticks to the original’s formula of some kind of item management, exploration and puzzle solving — and, crucially, fighting off zombie hordes. Gene Park, Washington Post, "Every Resident Evil game, ranked," 7 May 2021 Additionally, patents and intellectual property rights are only a small piece of the vaccine manufacturing puzzle. Katie Jennings, Forbes, "InnovationRx: Biden’s Pharma Patent Fight; Plus Universal Covid Vaccines," 5 May 2021 Monday's Instagram missive is the latest piece in an ever-developing puzzle. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, "Britney Spears says she's 'deeply flattered,' but 'these documentaries are so hypocritical'," 4 May 2021 Work on your kid’s puzzle, only to fall behind on your own. Lily Feinn, The New Yorker, "Impossible Puzzles for People Under Sixty," 3 May 2021 One key to solving that puzzle is identifying who has accumulated the largest pot. Paul Hannon, WSJ, "Covid-19 Savings Stockpile Could Accelerate Economy—if Consumers Spend It," 2 May 2021 No puzzle was solved, no new particle or field was discovered, no paradigm shifted in our picture of nature. Robert P. Crease, Scientific American, "The Fermilab Muon Measurement May or May Not Point to New Physics, But ...," 2 May 2021 Beth and Syrus end up timing out at the puzzle portion and come in last. Kyndall Cunningham, Vulture, "The Challenge: All Stars Recap: The Blame Game," 30 Apr. 2021 While the Cowboys are preparing to add a new collection of players in the NFL draft, the team’s most important piece of the offseason puzzle is continuing his comeback. Joey Hayden, Dallas News, "Cowboys QB Dak Prescott talks injury recovery: ‘I’m feeling game ready’," 29 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'puzzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of puzzle

Verb

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puzzle

Verb

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about puzzle

Statistics for puzzle

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Puzzle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puzzle. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for puzzle

puzzle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to confuse (someone) : to be difficult for (someone) to understand

puzzle

noun

English Language Learners Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a question or problem that requires thought, skill, or cleverness to be answered or solved
: something or someone that is difficult to understand

puzzle

verb
puz·​zle | \ ˈpə-zəl How to pronounce puzzle (audio) \
puzzled; puzzling

Kids Definition of puzzle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : confuse sense 1, perplex The mysterious phone call puzzles me.
2 : to solve by thought or by clever guessing She tried to puzzle out the crime.

puzzle

noun

Kids Definition of puzzle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a question, problem, or device intended to test skill or cleverness
3 : something that perplexes : mystery

Comments on puzzle

What made you want to look up puzzle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!